Small notebook that can dock with 2+ external monitors

RevMen

Limp Gawd
Joined
Feb 22, 2004
Messages
460
I'm starting a new job that involves a lot of travel, but still a lot of desk time. I'm on the hunt for a small, travel-friendly notebook or ultrabook, preferably with no optical drive. At home I'd like to be able to just plug it into a dock closed and use external keyboard+mouse and multiple ~20" monitors. My dream would be to have 3 external monitors, but 2 would be good, too.

The Lenovo T420s seems like it will get me there, but that might be more machine than I need. I also don't know if I'll be able to close the lid and not use the built-in screen at all.

The X220 might work, but I can't tell how well it would handle multiple external monitors or if I could dock it closed.

The Dell docking stations seem pretty crappy.

I like the ASUS and Acer ultrabooks, but they don't seem to have any kind of useful docking stations.

Any ideas?
 

Outlaw85

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Feb 7, 2012
Messages
1,465
I can't speak for any other laptop/dock combo but Dell. I am not a huge Dell fan, I wasn't given an option. But I am overall, happy with it. While it does show listed to come with Win7, I use Win XP 32bit.

I use a Dell E6400 with E/Port Plus 210W and 130W Port Replicator on a daily basis.

Likes:
Supports dual monitor (when laptop is closed). I current have 2x 19" monitors.
Dock provides additional USB ports
Dock supports DVI, VGA and display port (not all at the same time)
Power button on dock controls power on/off of laptop
Not large and bulky for all the additional ports you get

Dislikes:
Only supports dual monitor
Cannot use more then 2 of the video options at once.
Undocking and redocking may rearrange your desktop icons (not a huge con but note worthy).
Dual monitor support can be limiting on 130W version due to compact size (Single DVI, VGA, display port)


Honestly, I can't say anything bad about it except maybe the limit of monitor support if requiring more then 2 external. I haven't (but want to) tried the USB video adapters to see how well this would work. For basic day to day use and from what I've read on a few of them, they may be a good solution. Also, they aren't too expensive (~$50us for a good one).

Hope that helps,
Outlaw

**update**
Was just searching and found that the e6400 comes in a 14" model. The ones I found were refurbs, but for $250-$300, it has respectable specs (Core 2 Duo, 2GB+ ram, 160GB HDD...etc)
https://www.google.com/search?q=del...or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.,cf.osb&fp=ce38ca0d22cdee7e

Oh and BTW, I am not a dell employee. lol
 
Last edited:

knight427

Limp Gawd
Joined
Mar 10, 2011
Messages
183
If you really want 3 monitors, you need something with a strong GPU and if you want to buy it now, it needs to be an AMD GPU. Your best beet is to buy a Dell M4600 from their business outlet. Get a model with Firepro 5950 gpu.

You can use the laptop screen plus your 2 external monitors. If you get the docking station, you can do up to 5 external monitors!

There was a 15% coupon for their outlet earlier this week. Not sure if it still valid, but certainly the selection might be picked over by now. You should be able to get a base model with M5950 for $700-$800. Note that it comes with a 3yr NBD on-site warranty.

The HP 8560w offers the same gpu, so it would do the same ting, but HP has a crappy outlet. Lenovo W520 only offers Nvidia gpus. As such, the Dell price is unbeatable.

You can also do this with an AMD gaming card, but obviously you can't get a docking station for a gaming laptop (at least not the type offered by Dell/HP/Lenovo on their business class machines).

If you wait for Ivy bridge, I think the Nvidia gpus will support 3 monitors (they only do 2 for now as far as I remeber).
 

kevinsbane

Limp Gawd
Joined
Apr 25, 2011
Messages
269
I'm starting a new job that involves a lot of travel, but still a lot of desk time. I'm on the hunt for a small, travel-friendly notebook or ultrabook, preferably with no optical drive. At home I'd like to be able to just plug it into a dock closed and use external keyboard+mouse and multiple ~20" monitors. My dream would be to have 3 external monitors, but 2 would be good, too.

The Lenovo T420s seems like it will get me there, but that might be more machine than I need. I also don't know if I'll be able to close the lid and not use the built-in screen at all.

The X220 might work, but I can't tell how well it would handle multiple external monitors or if I could dock it closed.

The Dell docking stations seem pretty crappy.

I like the ASUS and Acer ultrabooks, but they don't seem to have any kind of useful docking stations.

Any ideas?

You can dock Thinkpads closed, but you do need to set the setting so that your machine doesn't a sleep when the lid's closed. The X220 cannot drive 3 monitors at once, only two. It handles my CAD work decently.

Portability, the thing is just awesome. I love how small and light it is.
 
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